Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Storm triumphs in Open qualifying

England's Graeme Storm secured a place in the 2009 Open after two rounds of final qualifying at Sunningdale.

Storm shot a record eight-under 62 on the New Course in the morning and ended 10-under with Argentine Rafa Echenique.

One shot behind were David Drysdale, Gary Orr and Branden Grace, while Rhys Davies, Paul Broadhurst and Raphael Jacquelin qualified in joint sixth.

Richie Ramsay and Oliver Fisher came through a six-man play-off for the last two spots at Turnberry.

Scotland's former US Amateur champion Ramsay grabbed his place with a birdie at the third extra hole, and England's Fisher hit his approach to two feet for a birdie at the fourth to clinch his berth.

England's Mark Foster and Danny Willett, Irishman Peter Lawrie and Dutchman Taco Remkes were the four who missed out in the play-off.

Denmark's Thomas Bjorn, Ireland's Shane Lowry, England's Nick Dougherty and Frenchman Thomas Levet also failed to qualify from the 96-man field.

Hartlepool's Storm, 31, who was ninth after three rounds of last year's Open at Royal Birkdale before ending up in 39th place, added a 68 over the Old Course in the afternoon, while Echenique carded 66, 64 to secure his place at the Open which begins on 16 July.

Scotland's Drysdale played as a marker for John Daly in the Open 17 years ago, but will now take part officially after nine previous attempts to qualify.

"I was 17 and it was a big buzz. It would be just great if I got to play with Daly again - he was fantastic," he said.

The 34-year-old booked his spot after rounds of 65 and 66, helped by a hole-in-one on the 217-yard 10th hole of the New Course.

Ten years ago Drysdale was in the same qualifying event as Paul Lawrie and out-scored him by six in the opening round, but then he missed out while Lawrie went on to win at Carnoustie.

Frenchman Jacquelin led final qualifying two weeks ago for the US Open.

"I guess I'm pretty good at these things," he said.

Bjorn, who was joint second behind Tiger Woods at St Andrews in 2000, finished only one shot from the play-off, but Levet, who lost out to Ernie Els in a play-off in 2002, was seven adrift and was then disqualified for signing for the wrong score.

Lowry, who last month won the Irish Open as an amateur, had his best two rounds as a professional so far, but 70 and 69 put him only one under.

Frenchman Christian Cevaer, winner of the European Open two weeks ago, missed out by five shots and Wales Open runner-up Niclas Fasth was seven strokes adrift.

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